Why should cybersecurity be so hard?

1 Sep 2017

Gary Robinson, founder and CEO of Uleska. Image: TechWatch

Gary Robinson, founder and CEO of Uleska, discusses the problems faced by the infosec industry. TechWatch’s Emily McDaid reports.

Gary Robinson must be one of Northern Ireland’s most enthusiastic ‘techpreneurs’.

His start-up, Uleska, builds cybersecurity into web applications while they are being built, rather than after they’re in use.

Now, Uleska’s product is in trials at companies across the UK and Ireland, after speaking to 70 software companies about its challenges and needs. Its patent application is pending, and it has also won a spot in the Invent competition finals, in the Enterprise category.

“When we launch to the open market – estimated to be this October – it will feel like a breakthrough,” Robinson said. “Uleska was born out of my repeated issues and delays I experienced as a hacker and security architect in the financial enterprise sector.”

‘Why has cybersecurity been so different? It’s the one area of IT where innovation hasn’t expedited tasks. It still takes two to four weeks to secure an application’

Robinson’s energy is contagious – he’s animated and passionate when describing the problems the cybersecurity industry faces.

He’s amongst the growing number of voices trying to change the mindset of an entire industry. Uleska is about security being a preventative measure, like taking a vitamin rather than a prescribed medicine after you’ve developed a disease.

Robinson said: “We’ve become accustomed to constant innovation, constant automation of tasks in the IT industry. 20 years ago, it was a chore to write a website and the mobile web hardly existed. Now we can use automated tools to write a website in hours for any internet connected device.

“Why has cybersecurity been so different? It’s the one area of IT where innovation hasn’t expedited tasks. It still takes two to four weeks to secure an application.”

Robinson isn’t one to shy from warning people about the perils of this situation. He said: “When it’s this hard to secure apps, of course cybersecurity is still the biggest risk to business. We need to sort this out.”

He’s also positive that Uleska is in a position to jump. Rapid7 recently purchased a start-up, Komand, in this automation space. Although it was not confirmed, the sale price was rumoured to be $50m (for a start-up only two years old).

Robinson said: “I’ve absolutely no doubt the approach to cybersecurity will evolve, and securing applications will be further automated in the coming years. At Uleska, we need to make sure we’re ahead of the game.”

And it’s a good game to play in. The application security market has a compound annual growth rate of 26.4pc and is estimated to be worth $9bn by 2020.

By Emily McDaid, editor, TechWatch

A version of this article originally appeared on TechWatch

Uleska is a finalist in the annual Invent competition run by Connect at Catalyst Inc, which aims to showcase the best and brightest innovators that Northern Ireland has to offer. Invent 2017 will take place on Thursday 5 October in Belfast, where 12 finalists will battle it out for a £33,000 prize fund and the chance to attend a Northern Ireland tech mission to California.

TechWatch by Catalyst covered tech developments in Northern Ireland